Defra Secretary Michael Gove has said the UK Government should spend more cash marketing Scottish produce and boosting Scottish exports.
Mr Gove also suggested more money from Westminster should be invested in agri-tech and catapult centres to promote research and development in Scotland.
He was expanding upon comments he made at the Scottish Conservative Conference in May, when he said the UK should spend cash on agricultural projects to ‘strengthen the union’ after the Scottish Government had been given its ‘fair share’.
Those comments were strongly criticised at the time by Scottish Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing, who told Farmers Guardian there was no ‘extra money’, referencing the convergence cash row which had seen Scottish farmers ‘shortchanged’ by £160 million.
Giving evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee last week (June 5), Mr Gove was asked how the proposal he had outlined would work in practice.
“There are all too many in which it could work,” he said.
“We could spend money on supporting Scotland’s producers to export, we can spend money making sure we more effectively market produce across the UK and particularly in Scotland, and we can invest money in agri-tech and catapult centres and areas of excellence.
“We can ensure the facilities are there logistically and otherwise in order to ensure Scotland succeeds because it is part of the United Kingdom.”
Mr Gove went on to say the UK Government was determined to ensure the ‘power of the Treasury’ was harnessed to provide support for Scotland’s rural communities.